Every Corvette since 1953 has been offered as a convertible, but this one is very different
For the first time since 1953, the Chevrolet Corvette convertible’s folding lid isn’t made from vinyl or cloth. Every ‘Vette until now has not only offered a convertible variant, but one with a soft roof material. The 2020 C8 Corvette drop-top breaks with that tradition and instead uses a ‘Vette-first power-folding hard top, which is made up of two panels that can retract into a cubby behind the seats and on top of the engine. Here’s everything we know about that fancy new lid:
Made from a composite material, the top is fairly lightweight. Chevrolet says the convertible’s overall curb weight is only 80 pounds (36 kg) heavier than the coupe’s, which is also sort of a convertible. (Like previous ‘Vettes, the C8 coupe’s roof panel over the seats can be removed manually and stowed in the trunk, where it murders pretty much all of the sports car’s cargo space.) Even better, the panel under which the C8 convertible’s two folding roof panels hide is rakishly styled, with two exotic-looking peaks trailing behind each occupant’s headrest that flow into the Vette’s tail. Buyers can specify their roof with matching body color paint or Carbon Flash (dark gray).
Chevrolet didn’t simply make the Corvette convertible’s roof out of a hard material and give it snazzy looks and call it a day, however. Engineers swapped the old, front-engine Corvette convertible’s hydraulic roof actuators for six electrical actuators, which are said to be more reliable. The top’s design allows the glass rear window to be operated independently, so owners may lower the window but keep the roof up. Alternately, the rear window can be raised when the top is lowered to act as a de facto wind deflector, which Chevy claims reduces wind buffeting in the cabin when speeding along top down.
The top’s metamorphosis from up to down takes 16 seconds, and can take place with the vehicle moving at up to 30 mph (48 km). Chevrolet isn’t concerned that the convertible’s lack of a fixed roof poses an issue for rigidity—after all, the roof panel on the coupe is removable, and the automaker apparently designed the mid-engine Corvette “as a convertible first.”
If anyone was worried about the possible negative effects of stuffing lightweight plastic roof panels into a cubby on top of the Corvette’s 495-hp 6.2-liter V-8 engine, Chevy thought about that. There is heat shielding around that cubby so that, you know, the top doesn’t get the toasted-panini treatment while stowed. And if you’re an aerodynamics nut concerned over the top’s effects on the ‘Vette’s drag figure, Chevy thought about that, too: The C8 Corvette convertible posts the same coefficient of drag as the coupe (at least with its top raised). The drop-top high-performance Z51 trim even uses the same rear spoiler as its coupe counterpart.
Oh, and we almost forgot to mention the obvious: Not only is the 2020 Corvette convertible the first with a folding hard top, it’s also, you know, the first-ever drop-top ‘Vette with its engine positioned behind the driver, in the middle of the car.